Because change and failure are inevitable

You often hear people say that change is hard—and it certainly is at times—but I think there are moments when you feel its impacts more powerfully than you thought possible.

Like when you’re at a roller skating rink.

It’s been raining an absurd amount in Orange County lately, and I’m not a fan at all. I require much more sunshine and far less humidity and wetness than we’ve experienced in the past month or so in order to function properly. I usually like to do things outside on the weekends (like hang out at the beach, go hiking in the canyons, ride the ferry and walk around Balboa Island, etc.), but those outdoor activities have been rather limited recently.

Sk8er girlz

My friend Monique and I had originally planned to go on a walk on the boardwalk Saturday, but constant downpours prevented that from happening. We were trying to decide what to do, and I suggested that we hit up a local roller skating rink. I mean, what else would two single girls do on such a dreary Saturday than put on some roller skates and relive the glory days of youth? I’ve actually gone to quite a few in my adult years, but it had definitely been a while, and I figured that it would be a fun thing to do on a rainy weekend day.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one who thought so. The place was PACKED. I don’t recall ever seeing a line out the door at any roller rink—at least not in any year after 1994 or so—so Monique and I were a little perplexed when we had to park in the parking lot next door because of the zero spots available in the rink’s lot and then wait much longer than 28 seconds to be at the front of the line.

Once we actually got inside, we immediately felt crammed. It was almost tough to breathe because there was practically no space anywhere. We laced up our rented skates in a clustered area with humid air that had the stench of a high school football locker room. When we finally got out on the rink, the process of skating was complicated by the multiple people (both adults and children) using PVC roller skating trainers to keep them from falling. To be honest, though, I really think those things made it more dangerous for everyone else.

I just landed a triple axel.

As I skated a few laps outside of the lines that the rink “referees” very strictly enforced as off-limits territory, I looked around and realized how much has changed since I was a kid. For starters, the PVC skating frame things were killing me. How are we supposed to learn if we never let ourselves fall? I understand that people don’t want to get hurt and break bones and whatnot, but can you really get that injured from falling on a surface similar to that of a gym floor. I don’t want to criticize anyone, but I also think that people are becoming too soft and overly cautious. Falling is part of life, and if you never let yourself get rid of training wheels and skating frames and bowling bumpers, you’re never going to allow yourself to grow and take chances that lead to greater things than you ever could have imagined.

Then there were the arcade games. None of them even accepts quarters. Instead, you have to have a card that you scan in order to activate the games. Maybe it’s because not many people carry cash or change around with them anymore, but it was so strange to see that putting coins in the machines wasn’t even an option. I didn’t get to play the claw game that grabs stuffed animals (I used to be really good at that one back in the day) because I wasn’t willing to go find out where and how to get one of the digital cards. I did happen to have two quarters in my pocket, though, because the lockers only take quarters to lock and get the keys out—but, unfortunately, those Washingtons are apparently useless in the arcade section.

I’m sad to admit that we didn’t last very long at the rink.

Later that day, I began thinking about how much has changed over the years—in society, in our entire world, in childhood experiences, and in my own life. Some changes are really great and easy to embrace. Others cause us emotions that aren’t so joyous and leave us anxious or upset in more ways than one. However we end up feeling as a result of those changes, though, doesn’t prevent them from happening and engraining themselves into our lives.

Trying to break into a cabinet—just a typical Friday.

And I also couldn’t stop thinking about failing and why we’re so afraid of it. I certainly don’t like failing. Just ask my coworker Barry, whose desk cabinet I tried to pick lock last Friday. He had locked his computer and coffee in there and left the key at his house, and I told him that I could get it open. I know how to pick lock a door, and I’ve opened cabinets before, as well, but this one was giving me more of a challenge than I expected. I spent nearly an hour working on that thing (I swear I’m actually a productive employee) and wasn’t able to get it open.

I felt like a complete failure—I had let both Barry and myself down.

My coworker Jim made me feel a little better later when he took a look at my unlocked cabinet and assured me that the lock was actually more complex and had some special bar, so you would essentially have to break the whole thing to get it open without the key. When I had originally suggested the breaking thing prior to speaking to Jim, Barry didn’t like the idea of me vandalizing company property. (Thankfully, his son brought him the key later in the day, so it all ended up being OK.)

I didn’t succeed at picking the lock, and I lost a bobby pin and paperclip in the process. It can also be argued that I lost an hour of work productivity, but I justified it because I think it’s important to help our friends when they need it. I’m pretty sure my boss would agree (and that’s what we’re going to continue to believe). I’m glad that I at least tried, though, even though I wasn’t completely positive of what the outcome would be going into it.

I’ve definitely had my fair share of worries and fears hold me back in the past from going after changes and things that might result in rejection or failure. I don’t want to live like that anymore, though. I want to be willing to step outside of my comfort zones and adapt to changes and learn from failures. I’ve actually had many changes in my life over the last few years, and there are certainly more on the way. I think they’ve been good for me, and I want to continue to be able to adapt to them and know that, no matter what happens, God has a plan that’s better than anything I could conjure up in my head.

And I want to know that I’m living as bravely as I can and learning from the times when I fall. Just because you fall down doesn’t mean that you’re down forever—it simply means that you’ve been given the opportunity to rise back up, dust yourself off, and give it another go.

Change is tough. Failure is probably even tougher. But they’re both inevitable. You’ll face change at some point in your life, and you’ll also fail at some point. Maybe change and failure both happen at the same time, which really isn’t a fun situation. They’re both huge aspects of life, though, and you simply have to learn how to deal with them. Sometimes you have to throw the PVC skating trainers to the side and go at it without so much hesitation. It’s how little kids learn to crawl and then walk—they fall, and then they get right back up and try again later.

I hope that you’re letting yourself learn to be comfortable with the changes you face and the failures that are possibilities in your life. The chance of failure means that there’s also the chance of success. You won’t always make it around the rink without a stumble or two, and that’s OK. The next lap could be the best one you’ve ever taken. But you won’t know unless you’re willing to get out there again and take a chance or two with the risk of failure still hanging in the air. Take on those opportunities and changes without fear—you’re braver than you think and worth believing that you’re capable of great things.

And you might find that you’re able to roll with the changes and setbacks much more boldly.

Hearts are stronger than distance

I love people and hearing their stories.

And I really love when their dreams come true.

My dear friend Crystal (I call her Peltz) is someone who has become one of my favorite people over the years. I met her during my first year of teaching, and I’m pretty sure it was destiny that we were meant to be friends. You know those people who just get you? Peltz is definitely one of those people for me.

We coordinated our outfits on my birthday one year.

We used to take what we called “upstare” pictures (which are basically us staring off into the distance) every Wednesday. I don’t even know how exactly they got started, but they became something fun we did on a weekly basis, and we occasionally even coordinated our outfits for them or had themed pics. We tried to come up with something fresh and creative each week. Was it silly? Probably. But we didn’t care—it was our thing.

Peltz is one of those friends who is genuine through and through and will drop everything in a heartbeat to help you when you need it. There was one day during a teacher workday when I started having unbearable pain, and some of my coworkers insisted I go to the hospital. Peltz immediately stepped in and said she was taking me there, no questions asked. She stayed with me the entire time (and kept me highly entertained, obviously) and even called my parents to make sure my family knew what was going on (and of course they showed up and to this day still ask about her and go on and on about what a great friend she is). She had so much she needed to be doing to get ready for the new school year, but she didn’t even act concerned about any of that—her main focus was making sure I was OK.

I had a ruptured ovarian cyst, so it was a long day in the hospital. She stayed the entire time and ended up taking me back to my car at the school later. Understandably so, she was pretty hungry and stopped at Chick-fil-A for a grilled chicken sandwich, and she gave me her extra Chick-fil-A sauce. I love that stuff, and I’m pretty sure I told her it’s so great that I could drink it—thus, a challenge was issued. So, in the front seat of her car, I downed that sauce on its own. I can’t say it’s something I’ll do on the regular anytime soon, but it’s a moment with Peltz I’ll never forget.

Then once she tried to trap me in a science lab.

I’ve known for years that my dear friend wasn’t planning on staying in Texas forever. Her heart has always been in Maine, and I was filled with joy for her when I found out that her dream is finally coming true. She’s found a wonderful job and home for her family to live in her favorite place on earth. The selfish part of me is already heartbroken that she’ll be so far away, but the other part of me knows this is exactly what she wants and what she needs.

The thing is, though, distance can’t ruin those true friendships and relationships that are meant to last. People sometimes leave, but the bonds don’t—they remain for as long as you let them.

Life is full of people and possibilities. Some people simply pass through our lives, and we only have limited time with them. Others are there for the long haul. Either way, they can impact us in so many ways and change our lives in what seems like a mere matter of seconds.

I have stories of heartache to prove it.

Change isn’t easy, and it’s not always embraced. But I don’t think it’s something that should necessarily be feared. It can be good for our hearts in ways we could never imagine.

She bought us tiny pink hats. THE BEST.

Peltz is gone from Texas, but I know she isn’t gone from my life. (Plus, we have matching necklaces that say “love” and matching tiny pink hats, so we’ll always have a special heart connection.) I love that she’s chasing her dreams, and I can’t wait to see what else is in store for her.

There’s a lot that happens in a single lifetime. There are adventures and dreams and hopes and opportunities and wins and losses and broken hearts and celebrations and so many other things. But it’s the people who make all of those things worth it.

And it’s those people—people like Peltz—who remind you every day why it’s so important to love and to live as big as you can.

Details, change and last place

I learned three important lessons recently: details are often important, it’s necessary to adapt to change, and coming in last isn’t the worst thing in the world.

DETAILS

Apparently I need to pay more attention to details. In my job, I have to, otherwise bad things could happen—like typos or facts that aren’t actually factual. I don’t know if it’s because of this that I sometimes let the details in other areas of my life simply fly over my head. I’m sure they’re important (I know they’re important), but my mind tends to wander and daydream, so there are certainly times when those needed details escape me.

Like last weekend.

I normally attend the 9 a.m. service at my church, and I typically don’t get there super early, but I figured since it was Easter weekend, there would probably be a lot of people there who usually aren’t there, so I thought 8:30 seemed like a good time. Plus, I’m on the safety team and wanted to check in to see if there were any special instructions for the holiday services.

I was walking by one of the doors, and a volunteer woman asked me if I was going into service. I said, “Oh, are you already letting people in?” (Usually they don’t open the doors until 15 minutes before the service starts.) She said, “Well, not for the 9:30 service, but if you still want to go into the 8 o’clock service, they just finished worship and haven’t started the sermon yet.”

Wait, what?

As it turns out, they had changed things up (and I’m sure there had been multiple announcements, posts and emails about this that I somehow didn’t let soak in), and I was either 30 minutes late to the first service or an hour early to the second. I decided to be late, even though I hate being late to things. It actually turned out to be a good thing because I got out of church in time to meet my parents and my sister and her fiancé for brunch that I thought I wouldn’t be able to attend. I still didn’t like that I had missed the beginning worship and whatnot, but at least I know for next year. Note to self: Pay more attention.

CHANGE

It also turns out that I need to be better about adapting to change.

Like, a lot better.

IMG_3743
It was a hard change to lose this one at work last year.

I was in a company bowling league, and last Thursday was our last night of the season. We’ve been sitting in last place for a while now, and there was pretty much zero chance of us getting out of that spot (more on this to come). One of my teammates thought it would be good to change up the lineup for our last three-game series of the year. Normally I am lead-off bowler, which I had gotten used to, but I was moved to last. I’m pretty sure it threw me off—I bowled my absolute worst game of the season.

We changed the lineup back to the original for the final two games, and I bowled my normal average.

There are some changes in life I can handle. After all, I made a huge career change last year, and it’s turned out to be something I’m very comfortable with and happy about. But there are definitely some changes I need to learn to be better about handling—you know, like a bowling lineup change. Or moving. I am fine with where I live now, but lately I’ve had feelings of regret for leaving where I used to live. I miss so many things about it and am having a more difficult time than I would prefer adjusting to my new area.

Change is hard. I know it can be good sometimes, and there are other situations in which it’s not so great, but we still have to learn to get through it somehow. Things could change again soon, but we have to live in the moments we have—even if it throws us off for a little bit.

LAST PLACE

I don’t like losing. I mean, I don’t know many people who would claim to like it, but I really am not a fan. So, it was a challenge to accept that the Spare Bears were in last place for most of the bowling season and had no hope of climbing anywhere else. We’re not even that bad, and I still don’t understand the scoring system, but somehow, someway, we sat in last. Dead last.

Oddly enough, though, I didn’t walk away from that season feeling like a loser. It was more the opposite, actually, because of the people I got to spend my Thursday nights with each week. Fred, Green, Zeppy and Beanes are definitely the type of friends you want in your life. There was a lot of ridiculousness that went on at our table each week, and it made the losing much more Spare Bearable.

Thursday night bowling taught me about humility, boldness, friendships, trust and so many more concepts. And it taught me that you can lose and win at the exact same time.

Life is full of details, and it’s full of change, and it’s full of losing—but it’s the people you experience all of these things with that make it all worth while.

When it’s time to turn the page

Change isn’t always easy, especially when you’ve become accustomed to people and ways for long periods of time.

But sometimes it just has to happen.

The past week was rather strange, because so much familiarity and comfort that I’ve known for the last seven years was slowly dwindling down. It was a week when I wanted to smile every day about what’s ahead, but I also wanted to cry every day about what I was leaving behind. I really don’t enjoy conflicting feelings like that.

It all started last Sunday when we had our annual end-of-the-year broadcast banquet. I knew it was the last time I would have all of my kids together, but I wasn’t expecting what happened that evening. I thought I was sitting down to watch a bloopers video (which we have every year), but instead I sat there stunned and humbled as I watched a video my students had made for me in which they all said some of the nicest things that touched my heart in ways I can’t explain. They even included some of my former students in the video, as well as one of my dear friends/former coworkers whom I missed terribly this year.

And it didn’t stop there.

my people
Such a wonderful surprise

After the video, some of those former students and my friend walked out of a room they had been hiding in to surprise me. I could barely get any words out, because I was so humbled by the amount of work those kids put in to make this all happen. I thought I was going to watch something that would make me laugh, and instead I was fighting back tears. I knew these students cared for me, but they really showed me how much by giving me one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.

As a teacher, there are some days when you feel like what you’re doing isn’t quite getting engrained into your students—almost as if none of your work matters to them. And then they turn right around and prove you wrong. It gives you a sense of pride and humility all at once. (There go those conflicting feelings again.)

I left that banquet wondering if I’m making the right decision to walk away from teaching. I know it’s what I’m supposed to do, but sometimes emotional moments can make you question even the most sensible things. As I drove with a full heart and a racing mind, I heard a quiet, comforting voice whisper, “You’ve done your job.” And I knew it was true. As much as I love those kids, I know the tugging on my heart that I felt more than a year ago can’t be ignored.

I hope all of my students have been positively impacted in some way or another. I hope that they learned not just the standard material but more so to have confidence in themselves and to treat others well. I hope they know how valued they are, how loved they are and how much they matter.

The rest of the week was full of students and coworkers making my heart smile in various ways. I watched as some of my students I’ve taught for four years walked across the stage and into the next chapters of their lives, and I was able to be a row leader at graduation for the row with a student who has been almost like a daughter to me. I was honored to be invited to a small celebration at her home afterward with her family members.

Then came Saturday—my last day at what I’ve called my second home for the past seven years. My classroom looked completely empty and lonely. After dismissal from our meeting, I made my way around campus saying goodbye to people, and there were a few moments when I thought I wouldn’t be able to keep a brave face on and hold back tears. As I walked out the doors for the final time, all of those blasted conflicting emotions were there again. I took a deep breath as I walked to my car, and I let out a heavy sigh as I drove past Einstein’s—a place I’ve gone almost every single workday and where they know I’m picky and let me select the exact blueberry bagel I want every morning (and even allow me to leave my $1.20 on the counter rather than wait for the whole cash register process). I’ll miss them, too.

If you ask me what’s next, I’ll have to tell you that I’m still not sure yet. Something. I will tell you, though, that sometimes God calls us to do things that we don’t understand and that make us feel like we’re being led blindly into the unknown—which is pretty much how I feel right now. It’s one of those times when you simply have to trust whatever He’s doing and know that He will provide whatever it is He has mapped out for you.

If I’m being perfectly honest, I’m not completely comfortable with this whole uncertainty thing. It’s a little scary not knowing what my life is about to look like. I mean, I don’t even have lesson plans ready, and that’s frightening.

Which I guess means this is another opportunity to be brave—and one I hope I will take.